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Red light cameras in decline despite safety benefits

In Colorado and across the country, fewer municipalities are implementing red light camera systems. The camera systems are mounted at traffic lights to catch drivers who run red lights. They may be later stopped by police or receive a traffic ticket in the mail with a citation for running through the red light. While the cameras have the potential to cut down on traffic accidents caused by dangerous drivers speeding through red lights, many drivers view them as a greedy, revenue-enhancing option rather than a safety measure. The cameras have also been criticized for failing to make a significant enough impact on roadway safety.

Some systems have come in for justified critique. For example, the Chicago system was reported to have the shortest allowable time for yellow lights combined with a robust red light camera ticketing system. Short yellow lights led to an increased number of drivers attempting to make it through the lights quickly rather than choosing to wait through another light cycle. This system was linked to an increased number of rear-end accidents.

When negligent drivers run red lights, serious consequences can ensure. Over 800 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents linked to running red lights in 2016, and many more were seriously injured. Over half of those harmed were cyclists, pedestrians or people in other vehicles. In cities where the cameras are present and known to be a factor, fatal crashes linked to red light violations dropped by one-fifth, indicating a real safety benefit to the cameras.

While drivers overwhelmingly recognize that running red lights is a dangerous behavior that can cause serious crashes, 42.7% of drivers admit to doing it in the past month. People injured in a car accident due to a negligent driver may consult with a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for their losses.

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